Monday, April 23, 2018

Fabric, and some more handstitching

Dressmaking fabric stash

I finally got my workroom tidy this week. It was too much of a mess to get anything done. I had got to the stage where I couldn't even see the top of my worktable. The floor wasn't much better, so I got all the clutter tidied and some rubbish got recycled. The fabric got put back into the cupboard. It is stacked in types of fabric, so, from the bottom left hand side are the jerseys and knit fabrics. To the right of that pile is the silk/rayon collection.  The third pile on the bottom shelf is mostly curtain fabrics with some acrylic felt for repairs to my print board. The extreme left hand side of the top shelf, are the woolen and suiting fabrics. Next to this are a small collection of cottons and cotton mixes sitting on top of a pile of furnishing fabrics.  The last pile on the extreme right hand side is all lining and interfacings. I can see what I have and having to tidy has the benefit of finding things I had forgotten about.

So having had a massive tidy, what did I find in a local charity shop but two metres of this gorgeous bunny pattern. It is a lovely cotton jersey which has a really warm feel. Well, I just couldn't leave it there, especially not since it was priced at £1. When I saw it I could just imagine it made up as a pair of pyjamas. Washed and ready for action it waits in my growing pile of projects. I really ought to get started and make these up before the warmer weather comes creeping back again.

I also bought some yarn. This is to replace a jumper I made some years ago. It has been much worn and is really beginning to show it's age. The sleeves will soon need darning, but it will reamin a really useful warm cover up when working in the garden or working on some project or another. The yarn here is double knitting since there doesn't seem to be any brown 4ply around at the moment. Now to find a nice pattern. I could use the plain v-neck bottom up pattern which I usually use, but I really do fancy a change....

The piece I showed last time is still being worked on. I think it is nearly finished. It just needs a nice plan for something as a focal point. Some applique perhaps.

Apart from washing the bunny fabric, I also washed 5 metres of my calico ready to use as toiles. The first will be this cargo pants design. The pattern has been drawn out on tissue ready to pin on the fabric. I will be starting work on this later today. I just need to iron the five metres......

I still haven't got around to starting my piece for the Pinfold Book Challenge this month. Still thinking about what to do..........

Monday, April 16, 2018

Stitching by hand

It has been a really interesting week. Work has continued on the shed, but I managed to attend the meetings of two textile groups. The first of these was Pinfold. The meeting had a workshop from Pauline Mills who showed us how to make "Penny rugs". You can see a really good online description here. Needless to say, I will not be making a proper "penny rug", it just isn't my style. Instead these will turn into the decoration of a fabric "vase" to hold my long rulers and old knitting needles. These currently reside in an overcrowded flowerpot with the longest of my paintbrushes. Hopefully things might get tidier and easier to find........ maybe not.

I just need to think about how to weight the bottom of the "vase" to stop it toppling over.

The fifth pile shown on the extreme right in the first photo was shown without it's flower backing. This is the colour which will be finally stitched in place at some time over the next few days. There are green pieces to be cut out as "stems" before being stitched onto the backing fabric which will be some upholstery fabric found in my stash. The "pennies" are cut out of felted wool. The fabric here was supplied by a friend of mine who brought along a large collection of felted and dyed blankets. Thanks so much Meryl!

Pauline, our tutor was very generous and gave us each three cardboard templates for the shapes. So useful and meant we could get straight on with the stitching. I've used variegated Anchor threads from my collection of embroidery threads. Three strands were used for the buttonhole with the full six strands used for the decoration. (Stamens and french knots). A lovely workshop with plenty of opportunity for chat as we worked. Just what was needed.

I handed over the "Come fly with me" book which I showed last time and picked up this next book. The topic this time is "Round and round". A really intriguing title. I'm letting my imagination go free for the moment as I try to decide what I could possibly make......

During the week, I started to make a few cards with scraps of samples from a rather too large collection. These three need a little more work. As does the one below. This really needs a fair amount of stitching before it can be called a card.

I also received two more patterns in the post. I love this style of cargo pants, but have never found a pair of ready-mades that actually fit me. I really couldn't resist this rather interesting dress and tunic pattern too. I have some suitable fabric in my stash for the dress, but haven't yet decided which fabric would be best for these trousers. I really ought to make toiles of each first......

Finally, on Friday, I met up with another group of friends and Debbie introduced the idea of "boro". I must admit I rather like the idea of handstitching various fabrics together. My version is really not a true "boro", but is inspired by the idea of stitching fabrics together to repair/make another fabric. Mine are strips of raw edged fabrics of various types from my collection of "interesting fabrics", along with dyed cotton bias binding and cotton tape. The pieces are all stitched onto each other and backed by a piece of calico (muslin). This will probably turn into the background for something at some stage. For the moment it is a very pleasant stitching project for the evenings.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

A last minute project

The past week has been a busy one. No time for stitching or knitting. I did have one deadline though, hence these photos. I had a page to complete for the Pinfold Book Challenge ready for tomorrow morning. Here are the pages I completed just a few minutes ago. As I write this, it is 9pm. Last minute as always.

The theme for this book is "Come fly with me." The weather here has been cloudy, damp and cold all day today, so my thoughts ran to warmer weather and the sight of swallows flying overhead.

These pages have my own felt, dyecatchers from my collection, a thermofax print of flying birds, block prints of ducks on a scrap of my own dyed fabric. The swallow is a commercial felt stitched into place. Handstitching using simple running stitch and buttonhole stitch around the swallow. Rather strange of me to choose handwork rather than machine stitching this time, especially since I was so short of time.

What was keeping me so busy this last week? Gardening and helping my husband with demolishing and then constructing a garden shed. The gardening is a rather urgent project since we have a builder coming in a week or two to construct a fence. I have been digging up shrubs and bulbs which we need to protect.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Finishing off projects and a little success.

Experimental cushion cover - front 
Well, it has been a busy week. A lot of gardening has been done and I have also managed to complete two projects. The first one is my experimental cushion cover. I started knitting the back a week ago and have just finished it and sewn the cover together. It has a 20 inch square cushion inner, so is nice and squidgy and cosy to cuddle up to. Just what I wanted.

Experimental cushion cover - back
It all started out, almost twelve months ago, as an experiment to knit quilt blocks without seams. There are a few, but most joins are achieved by adding stitches onto an edge, or knitting a piece between two edges. Good fun, but not something I will repeat in quite the same way. The back was just garter stitch stripes of varying widths interspersed with stocking stitch stripes in varying widths knitted on the diagonal rather than straight. A really quick way to use up the remaining oddments of yarn. Since the whole project was designed to use up a collection of yarns left over from a 4ply colourwork project it is amazing just how far the remnants have gone. I still have oddments of the cream, blues and greens left over

Completed Little Bandit Hat

The test knit was also completed and is ready to give to my grand daughter when we next meet. The hat is another design by Aida Sofie, but since it is a Test Knit, the pattern isn't available yet.
Top of the Little Bandit Hat
 I just love the top with the patterning caused by the decreasing. It would be possible to add a pompom, but I rather like leaving this just as it is.
Almost finished shorts
 I nearly finished my shorts, they just need ironing, the legs hemming and some belt loops adding. I didn't have quite enough fabric to make the waistband, so found this fabric in my stash. I think it tones in rather well.

Style Arc patterns 
I was rather naughty and bought some new patterns. The first two are by a pattern company which is one I've not tried before. Style Arc. I thought the Elani tunic would be rather nice paired with my new pair of shorts. I've probably got just the right fabric in my stash somewhere. I bought these patterns from Minerva.
More patterns

 I bought these patterns at the same time. The pinafore dress has been on my wishlist for some time now. I'm not sure if I am brave enough for the jumpsuit, but it would make for an interesting project for an evening out somewhere.
"In Print - Maps"
Do you remember this quilt? I first mentioned it here. Well, I heard this week that it has been accepted for the Contemporary Quilt "In Print" challenge. I will be sending this off soon ready for the first showing of the collection. This will be at the Needle Museum, Redditch from 25th May until 8th July. Exciting!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Knitting, sewing and visiting an exhibition

At the NWCQ meeting last week we were messing about with fabric paper - using PVA glue, paper and a calico base covered with tissue paper to hold it all together. These are my two pieces. I used some Japanese wrapping paper which had been around a couple of gifts I have received over the years, along with some rather nice paper bags and other papers from my stash. Coincidentally, they all used a similar colour scheme.

Neither of these are quite finished yet, they need some stitch and embellishment before turning into book covers. Well, that is the idea at the moment.

During the week, I also bought myself some lining fabrics for the two skirts I intend to make. The fabric on the left is a polyester habotai and is gorgeously light and soft, just right for the skirt fabric. Unfortunately, they only had white and I could really do with other colours in this weight. The other fabric is a standard dress lining which is just too heavy for the projects I have in mind, but will be extremely useful at some stage for something else. These were bought from Abakhan in Chester. Yes, I know I could buy this online, but there is something rather nice about visiting a shop and being able to handle the fabrics.

There has been knitting. This toddler size hat is well under way. It needs to be finished before the 4th April. The cuff is designed to be worn double, although I do wonder whether I should sew it in place. This is another test knit, this time using remnants of Debbie Bliss Rialto 4ply from my yarn stash.

The knitting experiment has been completed. This will turn into a cushion cover. I just need to start on the reverse. The back will use stripes of the yarns used on the front. 

I visited this small exhibition on Sunday. It was delightful, with a lovely range of techniques with needlefelt, weaving, free machine embroidery and beading amongst quite a range of others. The cards give a very small indication of the quality of some of the work shown. They were made by Susan Marsden and Elsa Buch. The items on show were all beautifully displayed too. It may sound a strange venue, but this is apparently where the group meets. Also Marbury Park is a wonderful spot for dog walkers and families out for the day. On Sunday the weather could not have been better, bringing out lots of families eager to enjoy the sunshine. I hope they had a lot of visitors to this exhibition. I look forward to the next one.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Knitting, sewing and future plans

The Unicorn Jumper is now completed, I just have a few ends to sew in. When I'd almost finished knitting this jumper, I was told of a technique called Ladder Back Jacquard for colourwork like this design. You will find a video about the technique here. The knitter who suggested it is really talented and I feel I ought to give it a go if I could just knit as neatly as she does. Can this old dog learn a new trick? I really ought to try.

There was a second completed item too. My green cardigan which has languished forgotten for too long is now ready for some buttons. I could do with wearing this cosy cardigan, especially with the chilly wind we have whistling around the house.

As I write this, I have a pair of shorts awaiting completion on my work table. As I mentioned last time, they are a trial run for a pair of trousers I intend cutting out and making. I needed to get the side seams sorted out to get a better fit. They just need finishing off. The brown fabric for the trousers has been languishing in my to do pile for rather too long. My next job will be to get these cut out.

I managed to get myself up to date with the Design Your Wardrobe course from Seamwork. This has now just finished. As a result I bought myself some fabric. Very naughty. It made me realise just what I found I missed from my spring and summer clothes last year. A nice soft skirt. I had had a beautiful silk skirt bought in Hong Kong. It had to be retired a couple of years ago.

These first two pieces - 3m metres each of Nugget and French Navy Viscose which are intended for two skirts I need to make. The pattern I will be using is the Zinnia from Colette patterns. I will make one of each - the first will have buttons down the front like my original skirt, while the second will have the pleated front. They will both have side seam pockets.

The third fabric I bought was this Trailing Leaves stretch Ponte Roma in a dark navy. I intend making a Neenah dress from Seamwork. You can see the design here. All the fabrics shown came from Minerva. This is rather a challenge for me since I have not made a stretch knit dress before. I think a trial run is required if I can just find the time. I still haven't started that quilt I mentioned last week and that deadline is looming ever closer.......

This last sheet is the collection of designs which I put together during the Design Your Wardrobe course. How many of these will eventually get made is quite a different matter. I think I have fabric for all of these in my stash, or most of them. I need a couple of the patterns too. I don't have the patterns for the Style Arc top or the Hot patterns dress and cargo pants. I also need to get on with designing that dungaree dress. Hopefully I will have made a start by the time I next write a post for this Blog. Wish me luck?

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Trying to fit everything in

Crocus with bee enjoying the sunshine.
There are times when I really don't understand Blogger at all. I clicked on a single photograph and all the photos I had intended to put into this Blog post, but not yet, arrived all at once. Strange......

Ah well, my first photos are of the crocuses and daffodils arriving in my garden. Such a wonderful lift of bright colours whilst we have been having some really chill weather. Apparently more is to come, but the flowers just cheer everything up.

I had intended to be good and not buy any fabric........

Black spotted fabric - just over a metre
I made the mistake of going into the local haberdashery for bias binding...... Fatal...... I came out with the bias binding, but grabbed this piece from the end of roll bin. It is a crisp, cotton/synthetic blend which should make a nice straight skirt.

Thinking of dressmaking, I did finish the waterfall jacket mentioned in my last post. I'm not entirely happy with it and am thinking about whether or not to alter the shoulders. They feel a bit bigger than I'd hoped for. Ah well, it will have to wait until I have finished a couple of other projects.

Rust fabric from Tracy Fox

On Saturday, I went along to the Quilters' Guild Regional day in Frodsham. So nice to meet up with people I rarely see. Such an interesting event too. Barbara Weeks was he speaker in the afternoon. Such an interesting person. She is also a member of the International Feltmakers Association and it was fascinating to chat about the felt tunic she was wearing. We had both attended the same workshop by Vivienne Morpeth, at different venues, so it was really nice to hear a much more experienced feltmaker's opinion. It was interesting to hear that Barbara is going to attend another workshop to be given by Vivienne in the near future. You can see my tunic here.

I was very naughty and walked around the stalls whilst at the Regional Day. Not a very sensible idea when trying not to buy fabric. I spent a lot of money on quilting threads to add to my stock, and couldn't resist some rust fabric which was being sold by Tracy Fox. It was so nice to catch up with her again too. I find her fabric really hard to resist.

There has been knitting. Test knitting. My green cardigan has been left for the moment. It has got to a stage which I really don't enjoy - picking up stitches for a button band and the buttonhole border too. I will get round to finishing it, but these two test knits have taken over.

This is the Adair Hat by Aida Sofie. You will find her designs on Ravelry, also here.

This little hat is in the toddler size, although this design will soon be available in sizes ranging from toddler to adult. I chose Sirdar's Harrap Tweed for this one. It is a really nice yarn to knit with and has interesting slubs of contrasting colours. The colour I bought was shade 0109, a lovely brick red.

The next knitting project is this gorgeous unicorn design, again from Aida Sofie. I really couldn't resist knitting this one. I have photos of my granddaughter playing with a toy unicorn. So this is being knitted in the size 2 -3 years. I've managed to get on quite well with this jumper despite fitting in the Adair hat too.

Ah well, I must get on with some sewing. I have a pair of shorts cut out ready on my work table and plans for another quilt. The shorts are a trial run on a trousers pattern I first made a couple of years ago. Since I have put on weight since the last time I made these, I really need to check out the sizing again. I know I altered them last time, but I don't seem to adapted the pattern itself, which was a bit silly. Ah well, with a bit of luck I should be able to cut out a pair of trousers after finishing this project. I really do need some nice trousers in my wardrobe. Oh, in case you are wondering. I decided against trying out the new trouser pattern. It is nice, but has a pleated front. Not a good look on me.

Speaking of wardrobes, I am also about a week behind on the Design your wardrobe course from Seamwork. I really must try to catch up before that ends on Friday. It is a really interesting course which is making me think rather more about what projects I ought to sew for myself. As a result I have ordered two lengths of viscose from Minerva to make summer skirts. I planned to replace my elderly silk skirt last year but never managed to get round to it. It was a lovely french navy and such a comfortable skirt to wear. I will be using the Zinnia pattern from Colette Patterns which is similar in style. 

Could I have an extra couple of days this week? Please........